IN THE TEMPLE OF DENDERAH 205
Roman soldiers brought to Britain among their cults the Egyptian-derived worship of Serapis and thus established a further, if indirect, contact between the two countries, so long ago.
On this carven wall she appeared fittingly wearing the horned disk headgear of Hathor, below which a falling mass of plaited hair was displayed. The face depicted was fat and chubby and that of a masterly woman, one accustomed to exercise a strong will and one who would by fair means or foul achieve her designs. It was her influence that had caused Julius Caesar to play with the dream of making Alexandria the capital city of his Empire and, the centre of the world. Here she was, definitely Semitic looking, with a prototype among any Jewish, Arab or Assyrian tribe; but hardly Grseco-Egyptian. With her perished the native rule, I reflected, while I sat upon a splintered stone beam, as well as one of the acknowledged beauties of the ancient world, a woman who played a notable part in history. It was a startling thought that a great man's destiny—and that of a whole nation—will sometimes hang on the smile of a woman's lips.
The fronts of the temple walls were carved to the cornice with half-reliefs, and richly covered with hieroglyph inscriptions chiselled into the surface. The balanced and beautiful lines of mingled alphabetic and pictorial characters were an adornment in themselves. They pointed to the fact that in old Egypt, just as in old China and old Babylonia, the man who would learn to write must also learn to draw, and so every educated scribe and priest in that country was, to some extent, an artist also. To convey a thought of some object by means of a picture of it, was the natural outcome of primitive man's earliest attempts at writing. But the Egyptians did not start as crude savages, gradually to find their way to an elementary culture. Legend attributes the invention of the complete hieroglyphic script to the god Thoth, and thus enshrines in popular iorm a historic truth. For it was a man-god, an Adept, named Thoth (strictly Tehuti), who bestowed this sytem of writing, as a complete revelation to the Atlantean-descended emigrants of the colony on the Nile banks, in the days before the last flood washed away the last island of Atlantis. Thoth was the author of the Book of the Dead. He is partly pictured in his own system tinder the hieroglyph of the Ibis—that queer bird, with stilt-like legs and long beak.